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It had all the makings of a viral YouTube video—only YouTube hadn't been invented yet. And David Platt is sure glad it hadn't been. Here's the scene: a preteen Platt takes the stage at a youth group service to deliver his first sermon. He walks on stage carrying a Bible and a water bottle. Before saying a word, he fills his mouth with water and spews it all over the front row. "If you're lukewarm," he squeaks, "that's what God thinks of you!" Platt chuckles as he recalls his debut. "What a horrible start to preaching," he says. "There's no way I should have been given an opportunity to preach a sermon at that age, but I was. Guess I had a prophetic, or pathetic, edge from the beginning."

The prophetic part stuck. At 27 Platt became the pastor of The Church at Brook Hills in Birmingham, Alabama, making him the youngest megachurch pastor in American history. A few years later he wrote Radical, a jeremiad against the American Dream, which hit The New York Times Bestseller List. Now in his mid-thirties, Platt is more committed than ever to reaching unbelievers and challenging complacent Christians. Drew Dyck and Marshall Shelley talked to Platt about his calling, his passion for disciple-making, and why he still feels he has "no clue" what he's doing.

Tell us about your calling. Was it always to be a pastor?

Preaching, evangelism, and mission have always been driving passions for me. The way that's played out is something I never could have planned. I went to seminary but never intended on pursuing a Ph.D. I had a passion to teach the Word and wanted to know how to do it more effectively. After I finished the Ph.D., I was asked to teach at New Orleans seminary.

I saw it as an opportunity to pour myself every semester into 50 or 100 students, people who would go around the world in ministry. And it would enable me to go overseas during fall break, spring break, Christmas break, and summer break, taking students with me. I could show them disciple-making in global context. What better job in the world is there than that? It seemed like a great way for those passions to play out and hopefully build up the body. So I was doing that.

Being a pastor wasn't even on my radar at that point. Then Katrina came. It put our house under water. We were in Atlanta waiting to get back down to New Orleans. And this church in Birmingham was without a pastor, so they called to see if I'd fill in one Sunday. And so I did. And one Sunday turned into two, and two into three. I remember the day I got a call from the pastoral search team about maybe coming to pastor. They wanted to talk to me. And I just thought, There's no way. I was 26 at this point. I had never pastored. I sat down with this team and said, "With all due respect, you guys are crazy. There's no reason why this would work." They're talking to me about the church's multi-million ...

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From Issue:Callings, Winter 2013 | Posted: January 16, 2013

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February 08, 2013  9:36pm

Wonderful article and I completely agree with David. He talks about some of the things that I have noticed in the Christian culture. But I take issue with the 'prophet' label. He is not a prophet in the proper definitions of the word. For instance looking at prophets such as Isaiah and Jeremiah it is easy to say that they did not have a comfortable job at a mega church. Truthfully if David Platt was a true prophet would have him and he certainly wouldn't have a published book!

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February 04, 2013  4:35pm

It is interesting to me that Mr. Platt thinks that lecturing the Word, every week, year after decade, to people he has zero mutuality with has any connection to making disciples. He is certainly dishing out information on making disciples, but that does not constitute anything close to the Jesus' mutual relationship driven discipleship example. I realize, since he was raised in the American dream orientation of church with it's huge preoccupation with lecturing the Word. He may have never seen a leadership with a focus on actually doing what Heb. 10:24,25 says "the habit of meeting" actually is - and. When you're in the circle of super-preacher status and the gush of demand for your lecturing, it's hard to see outside the this system. You are led to think that you add power to your ministry by adding more and more people to hearing you lecture the Word or read your books.

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January 30, 2013  11:31pm

Have there ever been any yet, who have been "discipled" and then fallen away? Who would therefore have been better not to have been discipled in the first place ? It would be wonderful for a true-blue Christian awakening to grow like this; exponentially to the degree of discipleing literally the whole human race into a great "triumph, as projected in some 'post-millennial' views ". This seems to be what you are aiming at. (! ? ). Or do you envisage,or will there be, a ceiling ? When Jesus returns to earth might,there be a solemnly sad difficulty in "finding faith on earth " ? If so why ? Does faith & true belief,literally equate to literally having eternal life ??? ( i.e. never actually physically dying, because one is so right that the soul that sins a sin that is not unto death, never dies, etc. This belief addressed by Smith Wigglesworth{as a-) over a 100 years ago. But was it a message that was to be passed on from A.D.30, on to the actual end?

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Rick Dalbey

January 30, 2013  10:46pm

Why is Platt called a New Testament prophet? Why does he even accept that title? Agabus was a New Testament prophet and he predicted famine in Jerusalem. Years later he predicted Paul would be arrested. Phillip had four daughters who were all new Testament prophets. They predicted that Paul would be arrested. Paul describes prophets in the Church in 1 Corinthians who would divulge the secrets of a visitor’s heart and that person would fall to the ground saying ceertainly God is among you. Paul said that at each church service two or three prophets could speak at most while the other prophets judged. Then he said, despise not prophesying. I know of many faith filled new testament prophets today. By any scripture I read David Platt is not a New Testament prophet. I am pretty sure he believes that all the gifts of the Spirit including tongues, interpretation, miracles, healing, prophecy etc. are stone cold dead.

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Ryan Connor

January 29, 2013  10:34pm

David Platt seems to be a smart and sincere man. His books seem to say important things for the church to hear again (Mission, discipleship, etc.). But, I have to say the last four paragraphs of this interview give me hope that David will learn to temper his prophetic flame with a pastoral heart. It's easy to blaze through town and lite a fire, and then leave. His books have had this same effect. A lot of us pastors are having to deal with the people he's fired up with his books. People want to know if they are really Christians if they don't adopt children or go overseas to do "mission" work, or "disciple" everyone they come into contact with. And, if they jump on this bandwagon, they tend to turn a judgmental glance on the "Cultural" church. I hope David Platt's new book broadens the idea of discipleship beyond missions overseas and adopting children. Discipleship is about becoming Christ-like in our character (becoming people who adopt, take mission trips, serve the church, etc.).

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